Cambodia reports death of 11-year-old girl from bird flu

February 24, 2023 - 11:41 AM
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A person holds a test tube labelled "Bird Flu", in this picture illustration, January 14, 2023. (Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration)

Cambodia reported an 11-year-old girl from a province east of the capital Phnom Penh died after being infected by the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu.

It was the first known human infection with the H5N1 strain in the Southeast Asian country since 2014, Minister of Health Mam Bunheng said in a statement on Thursday.

The girl from Prey Veng province was diagnosed with bird flu after falling sick with a high fever and cough on Feb. 16, the statement said.

When her condition deteriorated, she was transferred to the National Children’s Hospital in Phnom Penh for treatment, but died on Wednesday, the ministry of health said.

Since early last year, bird flu has ravaged farms around the world, leading to the deaths of more than 200 million birds because of the disease or mass culls, the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) recently told Reuters.

The World Health Organization (WHO) earlier this month noted the spread to mammals of H5N1 influenza, but said the risk to humans remained low.

H5N1 had spread among poultry and wild birds for 25 years, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing, but recent reports of infections in mink, otters and sealions “need to be monitored closely”.

Cambodian health authorities urged people not to handle dead or sick animals and birds, and to contact a hotline if anyone suspected they had been infected by the disease.

—Reporting by Reuters Staff; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Jamie Freed